Eric Zassenhaus

Photo courtesy of Gene Nubla

These days, there are scores of artists, startups and entertainment companies—as well as ordinary NFT holders—who are parlaying non-fungible tokens into commercialized intellectual property.

Case in point: the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.

Santa Monica-based Universal Music Group, one of the world’s largest record labels, has created a “metaverse group” consisting of four Bored Apes, while crypto exchange Coinbase is using the simian blockchain darlings as characters for an upcoming film trilogy. Talent agencies like WME and United Talent Agency, meanwhile, have added Bored Apes and other NFT characters to their client rosters.

These creative works are possible because blockchain firms have attached broad commercialization rights to NFTs, which are unique digital assets verified using blockchain technology. Granting those rights could boost the value of NFT collections by making them more culturally relevant, according to experts, though it remains to be seen whether such projects can appeal to audiences beyond NFT adopters.

A lot of legal questions remain, too, as "Austin Powers" actor and producer Seth Green just learned the hard way. Green is developing a hybrid live-action/animated comedy called “White Horse Tavern,” in which the creator’s own Bored Ape comes to life as a friendly neighborhood bartender. The project was almost sabotaged last month when a scammer duped Green in an online phishing scheme—stealing four of his NFTs. Since Bored Ape NFTs come with a license to commercialize the art, Green may have momentarily lost the rights to produce the show (Fred has since returned home safely). The drama turned Green into a poster child for how sketchy the world of NFTs can still be—the “Wild West” of digital assets, as some observers have put it.

This week, dot.LA reporter Christian Hetrick looked into the phenomenon, and the coming slate of NFT entertainment experiments.

Here’s What Happened in LA’s Entertainment Tech World This Week 🍿

After an internal probe, Activision is disputing that “there was ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation” at the company.

Where traditional investors may not see opportunity, fintech startup Creative Juices is willing to cut checks to Youtube, TikTok and Snap creators, among others.

Kippo and Magic Eden are teaming up to help users expand their horizons by selling NFT “land” within the app.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has just bought two new sports franchises—in the metaverse.

E3 could be headed toward a face-off next year as it fights to remain the dominant gaming show in town.

Microsoft took an unexpected step toward sanctioning a unionized workforce Monday.

After laying off a third of its workforce, Wave Sports and Entertainment is left with 110 employees.

Social Media 📱

TikTok’s data on U.S. users was repeatedly accessed in China by employees of parent company Bytedance, which has been hiring in California and Washington as it expands into virtual reality.

Snap Inc. is internally testing Snapchat Plus, a paid subscription that would give the app a new revenue stream.

Social video platform Triller has ditched its plans to go public through a reverse merger.

Transportation 🚗

Lime is piloting a new electric motorbike in Long Beach.

Santa Ana-based Overair is looking to take its six-seater Butterfly prototype to the skies in the second half of 2023.

After pushing the original January 2022 delivery date for its R1S to the summer, Rivian just informed its customers of another production delay.

Venture Capital 💰

Agtech companies raised a record $3.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021, spurred by climate change concerns and the pandemic.

Invoca, a Santa Barbara-based AI software platform that analyzes customer service calls for sales and marketing teams, is now a unicorn.

Metropolis raised $167 million for its automated parking payment technology

While private capital funding has slowed down in 2022 overall, SaaS-focused startups continue to raise money.

Kairos Ventures’ new $58 million fund has already invested in 27 early-stage life science startups.

🎧 Listen Up 

On this episode of the Office Hours podcast, host Spencer Rascoff talks with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on how he built a tech hub in Miami.

Suneera Madhani left her old job and started her fintech company, Stax – an industry in which she is one of few female CEOs.

JLL Spark’s Laurent Grill said there’s more to proptech than just renting space, including developing smart buildings, new construction techniques and tenant experience platforms.


SpaceX fired at least five employees for criticizing CEO Elon Musk in an open letter.

Meet Techstars LA's latest cohort of startups, which spanned from ecommerce to quantum computing, with a heavy emphasis on data collection.


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Keerthi Vedantam

The pandemic has meant chaos for families and their schedules. Playa Vista-based childcare center Brella aims to give parents a tech-enabled, more flexible way to schedule childcare for their kids. Today it announced a $5 million seed round that will allow it to expand into Hollywood and Pasadena.

Here’s what else we're reading in the news:

- Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather, among other celebrities, are being sued for allegedly taking part in a pump-and-dump cryptocurrency scam.

- L.A.-based Pilgrim Soul, a cannabis brand focused on "elevating creative thinking," raises a $2 million seed round.

- Mobilitie and AEG partner to bring 5G to Downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Live and Arena.

- L.A. Metro partners with Santa Ana-based Iteris on the infrastructure for its NextGen bus system.

- Xbox head Phil Spencer discusses how gaming is heading into the metaverse.

- A court upholds the firing of two LAPD officers who ignored a robbery call to play Pokémon Go.

Playa Vista Childcare Center Brella Raises $5 Million

“Families' work lives are really dynamic; they're not always working this 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday kind of role.” Brella is part of a growing industry of childcare startups leveraging technology to help families find childcare solutions. Reporter Keerthi Vedantam spoke with the founders about their vision for the future.

AmazeVR Raises $15 Million to Develop Virtual Reality Concerts

Virtual reality startup AmazeVR secured $15 million in funding as the company prepares for its first commercial VR concert with Megan Thee Stallion.

Riot Games Investigating Esports Exec Amid Bullying Allegations

Esports organization TeamSoloMid's founder and CEO Andy Dinh is being investigated by Riot Games after complaints of workplace misconduct.

Jaanuu Lands $75 Million to Make Stylish Medical Scrubs

The El Segundo-based startup designs and produces scrubs and medical apparel for health care professionals. The $75 million investment comes from French private equity firm Eurazeo.

Beyond Meat Unveils Plant-Based Meat Options at KFC, Pizza Hut

Fast food chain KFC is introducing Beyond Fried Chicken in a new partnership with Beyond Meat—a sign of the fast food industry’s growing interest in vegetarian and vegan options.


Apple forever changed the game when it updated its privacy rules in April 2021, requiring that companies get permission before collecting user data online. Since then, digital brands have been scrambling to find new avenues to amass information about shoppers. Prodege is betting that the answer to retailers' data woes lies in online surveys—and a new contract with consumers.

Here’s what else we're reading in the news:

Prodege Hits Unicorn Status Amid a Changing Privacy Landscape

The El Segundo-based company rewards users for completing questionnaires and making purchases, then sells information about shoppers’ habits and preferences back to market research firms and retail clients. “We get the member—the consumer—to give us their permission to have a quid pro quo,” said its CEO.

Hadrian Raises $36M to Make Autonomous Aerospace Factories

The startup develops automated manufacturing plants for the aerospace and defense industries. As automated aerospace manufacturing rises, Hadrian hopes to court newer space players such as Long Beach-based Relativity Space and Rocket Lab to use its robot-staffed factories.

Whatnot Teams With UFC Fighter Masvidal to Sell Sports Collectibles

The worlds of collectibles and mixed martial arts are coming together. UFC fighter Jorge Masvidal is launching his own shopping channel on Whatnot to auction off UFC trading cards and merchandise. The livestream e-commerce platform got its start selling Pokémon cards and Funko Pops, and the partnership marks a move toward sports fans.

mPulse Mobile Expands As Health Care Embraces Chatbots

AI healthcare startup mPulse Mobile has acquired communications platform HealthCrowd. The deal follows a trend in health care to leverage chatbots to cut down on tedious administrative procedures and lower costs.

🎧 Listen up: 75 and Sunny’s Wil Chockley on How to Pitch Your Startup

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, 75 and Sunny venture firm partner Wil Chockley shares his thoughts on the skills early-stage founders need and advice on how to produce the best pitch possible.